The BABY is FIVE.

It’s been five whole years since we first met our baby girl. I can’t help but be a little sentimental about Charlotte and all she’s been through; every birthday is another blessing and another reason to thank God that she is alive and so healthy.

Five years ago we didn’t know what to expect after she was born.

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These days we still don’t always know what to expect, but our thoughts about heart defects are less frequent as we are more focused on shaping her heart and pointing to the One who made her.

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We had a great morning before church with breakfast from Dunkin’ Donuts (her favorite) and then we opened some presents.

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Charlotte has developed a love for horses over this past year, so we had some horse-themed gifts, and we’ll also be giving her riding lessons this fall.

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Sam was the gift director.

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Sometimes they fight, but when they are getting along, it is pretty sweet.

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I have said it before, but I can’t say it enough: thank you so much for all your love and prayers and support for Charlotte and all of us over these past five years. Her scars will always be a reminder of what she has endured, but we are thankful that those scars are not the end of her story.

Happy birthday baby girl! We love you!

Simple Summer Plan

I don’t know about you, but if I’m not careful I’ll blink and it will be August. And I’ll wonder, “what the heck did we even do this summer?”

I decided to come up with a better plan this year, a plan that would give us a little structure and focus each week, but without being so complicated and difficult that we would give up on it the second week in. I also wanted to make sure that we were keeping up with a little school work each week so as not to fall behind.

Naturally, I scoured Pinterest for some ideas, and this is what we came up with:

This Week’s Theme

Having a theme each week gives us something to plan around, it gives us books to read, activities to do and, best of all, it gives Sam a guaranteed weekly entry for the journal he is keeping for second grade. (And if you’re lucky, a guaranteed weekly blog post!)

Our first theme is this week, and in keeping with Father’s Day, we chose “Dad” as the theme for the week.

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We already had a cool book about Florida (where Tim lived from age 9 until college), and we found books in the library about Michigan (where he was born) and fishing. We rented the movie Chicken Run (since he ran track, ha ha) and we will be grilling and fishing this weekend when we go camping.

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Next week’s theme is Francis Scott Key. The original, hand-written copy of The Star Spangled Banner will be coming to Frederick this weekend to be reunited with FSK. We won’t be in town for the actual event, but we can still find fun things to do next week.

Other themes for the summer: Indiana Jones, gardening, Florida, South Carolina, sea life… and who knows what else. The Florida & SC themes will coincide with trips to visit grandparents, so that will be fun for the kids.

How do you keep your kids occupied in the summer? What are some fun, easy ideas you have for adding a little structure to school breaks?

I would love to hear your ideas!

Nothin’ Ever Happens in Bethlehem

Yesterday was the annual Christmas pageant at Sam’s school. His music teacher does an amazing job of putting together a new show each year that tells the Christmas story and incorporates the same costumes (a shoestring budget would be an increase for her!).

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Yesterday’s show was about a group of angels who are sent on an assignment in Bethlehem. There’s lots of complaining about how boring and unexciting Bethlehem is… thus the song, Nothin’ Ever Happens in Bethlehem. Quite a cute number!

Sam was a shepherd this year and he did a great job singing and dancing to the 70′s-style version of Angels We Have Heard on High.

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My favorite part of the day was watching Sam and his friends together. They are a tight-knit bunch and it’s evident that they love each other very much.

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I can’t say that Sam has the same feelings towards his mama’s camera…

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I am so spoiled by the fact that Tim works right in town. He was able to make it to the pageant and then we enjoyed a post-pageant, kick-off-Christmas-break lunch at Cracker Barrel.

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Merry Christmas!

Sometimes I forget you’re not all on Facebook…

Or Instagram. Or Twitter.

I post pictures a lot on these sites, because it’s easy to do so with my phone.

{I remember a girl who once said,  “Why do I need my phone to take pictures? That’s what a camera is for! That’s shtupid.”}

Now I honestly wouldn’t care if my phone was missing a number pad. I just want it to take great photos. And it does! So, without further ado, here are some lately photos from my phone, edited in Instagram and/or PicMonkey.

First up, Sam. He is so handsome!

This was at the Halloween party at school… the kids wrapped him up like a mummy.

He also started taking soccer lessons, and for his first time, he did really well!

He’s also been experimenting with punctuation at school… hee hee.

And here are Mario & my bumblebee right before we went trick-or-treating…

 

And here are two of Charlotte; we spend a lot of time in the car together.

 

 

You may or may not know that Tim was growing a beard for the Detroit Tigers during the playoffs. Even though the Tigers lost, he kept the beard. I think he looks so handsome!

 

And finally, the birds are back again. It’s been a little Hitchcock-y around here lately…

 

There are lots more, but I can’t spend my entire day editing photos, ya know?

The Chronicles of Gardening {pt.1}

Two Crazy Kids & A Dream

Remember that time Tim and I bought a townhouse because we didn’t want a lot of yard to take care of? Yeah… so now we’ve decided we want to garden. And thus we will be making a small yard even smaller.

My awesome man built me two raised garden beds today and tomorrow I will commence to filling them up!

 

One bed will be a “salad” garden with lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers and tomatoes. The other will have strawberries and lots of herbs. I think I bought at least four different kinds of basil today. Did I mention that I love basil?

Along the back of the fence {where the little mulch-y bed thing is now} will be a row of cherry tomatoes, and then along the side fence where the sun shines all the day long Sam will have a row of corn. Yes, corn. That boy has been wanting to grow corn for years.  We were going to plant sunflowers but then we saw the corn at the nursery and we went with that instead.

{We finished the second bed after dark, but we will be digging up the mulch bed and the second raised bed is sitting between the first bed and the mulch now. Got all that?}

I will be getting my hands dirty tomorrow.

How about you?

Fun with Peeps

Sam was on spring break last week. At first I thought it was a little strange that his school was having a break so early, but then I thought they were geniuses for scheduling it the week after the time change. It is a bear to get kids to bed before 8 o’clock when it is so bright outside!

I did feel bad that we didn’t have a big (or small) trip planned, so I tried to come up with a few fun things to do during the week. I had seen something called Peep Science on a blog, and I gathered together some things for Sam to experiment with.

He coated the Peeps in baking soda and then poured on Sprite… not much of a change.

 

Then he poured on vinegar, which was a little more fun.

 

The he experimented with making the water different colors with different Peep combos.

 

Overall he really had fun playing with (and eating) the Peeps.

And I suppose I misspoke earlier when I said we didn’t take a small trip. We did take a little day trip north on Friday so that Sam and Charlotte could both play with some candy. But more on that later!

 

 

More Photos from Disney

Good evening! I am typing from the little couch in our Savannah hotel room. We had a bittersweet day today; we enjoyed every last second of our Disney trip, but Sam and I were both holding back the tears as our ferry took us away from the Magic Kingdom. To say we had a great time would be a drastic understatement. I am totally smitten with Disney and I finally understand why so many of you go back over and over again.

This was the first vacation we had taken as a family with just the four of us. The main reason we picked Disney this year was to celebrate Charlotte being done with all her surgeries & to celebrate ten years of marriage for the Mister and me. And celebrate we did! We had five full days of fun, and the best part was that we all just love being together. Tim and I said more than once how much we love how Sam and Charlotte love being together.

I will recap more later this week, and I am going to dump all of our pictures onto Flikr so that you can look through them as you like. But before I call it a night I want to give you a few of my favorites from Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and today. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you are all having a great weekend!

Friday News Roundup

No, I am not channeling Diane Rehm. (Although I wouldn’t complain about looking like her when I am that age!)

Where was I going again? Oh yes, catching you up on everything exciting that has happened this week.

It’s a short list. I mean, you can’t really top First Day of School.

Second Day of School was great, too. Sam hopped right out of the car yesterday morning and barely gave me a glance as Mrs. J ushered him into the gym. All of the kids go to the gym at first and then their teachers take them to class at 8:10.

By all accounts (Sam’s, that is) he loves school. He learned three Spanish words yesterday (Hola, si & verde). He’s been to PE and music. He is having a ball. He did wake up with a little nervous stomach yesterday and today, but once he got breakfast in him he was fine. School is a lot for a little guy!

In other news, I took the kids for haircuts last week. I realized after I posted first day pics that a lot of you hadn’t seen Charlotte’s do. A couple of weeks ago Sam cut a chunk out of the back of C’s hair. He just cut a top layer (thank goodness), but it was still noticeable enough that I wanted to get it fixed. The lady who cut her hair did a great job giving her layers and bangs. She looks beautiful, if not a little too grown up.
 

Charlotte will start dance class next Wednesday, and her first day of school is September 6. And that will probably be the day you find me in the fetal position in my closet.

A few months ago I ordered some vinyl designs from Shannon Foster at Simply Said. Why did it take me so long to use them? Well, I have not had the best luck applying these kids of things in the past. They always tear or have lumps. Well, these are not your Target’s vinyl wall applications! The Simply Said vinyls are definitely high-quality and way more sturdy. I am so glad I ordered them; as you can see, they add such a sweet touch to Charlotte’s white dresser.
 

I have another set to go in the kids’ bathroom once I (ahem) get around to painting the walls.

Charlotte’s famous sweater had made its first appearance of the season. Thank goodness it still fits. Best sweater EVER!

In case you didn’t hear, we had an earthquake on Tuesday. The kids and I were in the bathroom at Michael’s, and I thought a truck had run into the building. The kids barely paid it any mind. We had a couple of pictures that were crooked, but otherwise we sustained no damage. The Washington Monument did not fare so well.

And now Irene is bearing down on the East Coast. We are far enough inland that at worst we should just get some good rain. What is disappointing is that this weekend was to be the unveiling and dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in DC. People have traveled from all over for the weekend, and now the dedication has been postponed until September. I know it can’t be helped, but still…

I think that’s all the news for now. What are your weekend plans?